One thing we can be sure about in any relationship—it could be romantic, or familial, or professional—is that offence will come. Sometimes offense happens unintentionally or even intentionally. No matter who offends you and how you are offended, the biblical pattern we are asked to follow is simple: forgive.
Forgiveness is most often easier said than done, but nonetheless it is commanded and commended. But as simple as a concept as it may seem, we don't always get forgiveness right whether in concept or in deed.
When we get forgiveness wrong, there can be a cost both to our relationship with others and even with our relationship with God. Forgiveness is necessary for reconciliation of all relationships, and we must get it right.
Here are four ways we might get forgiveness wrong and how to correct these wrong mindsets.
1. We Can Forgive Only When Things Are Made Right
We often think that forgiveness must always follow restitution, but that's not always the case. Many times we might need to forgive someone who is not regretful or repentant not only to set them free, but to set ourselves free as well.
Forgiveness can come even when justice isn't served because God gives us a way to walk in relational freedom through Christ. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
2. There's A Limit To Forgiveness
Maybe you've heard someone say, "I'll only forgive you until the nth time. After that I'll never forgive you again." Does forgiveness have a limit? Jesus doesn't think so.
Matthew 18:21-22 says, "Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
3. Forgiveness Means Keeping Ties
"So if I forgive a business partner who cheats on our sales, should I still do business with this person?" Well, not necessarily. While we are to walk in forgiveness, we are also commanded by God to walk in wisdom and discernment.
Forgiveness entails releasing someone of the offence that person might have committed but not necessarily letting things go back to the way they were. We can and should distance ourselves from offenders, most especially if the offence has been done multiple times.
4. Forgiveness Comes For Free
Forgiveness, contrary to what we might sometimes think, doesn't come for free. God is loving and yearns for forgiveness to flourish, but He is also just and His nature demands that someone pay the consequence of sin. That's what Jesus did for us all on the cross.
1 Peter 3:18 says "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit."
We can forgive freely, not because forgiveness is free but because Jesus paid the price in full once and for all.